Cover Story

Duran Duran covers Lou Reed

September 12, 2010 1 Comment

By now, you might have heard how Susan Boyle had planned to sing Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” on America’s Got Talent last week, only to learn a couple of hours prior to the live show that her request had been nixed by the former Velvet Underground frontman.

LouReedPerfectDayTMZ reported that when SuBo heard Reed had put the kibosh on covering his song, she “dissolved into tears.” Having flown in from the UK specifically for the AGT performance, and with no other song prepared as a backup, Boyle immediately headed back home. In an interview with BBC Radio 2 on Friday, Simon Cowell responded to less-than-perfect “Perfect Day” flap with a characteristically caustic comment, saying, “I thought this is so petty, so pathethic. Loads of people have covered the song, millions of people.” (Boyle is signed to Cowell’s SYCO label.)

Well, I don’t know about millions, but yes, “Perfect Day” is popular. Maybe not to “Hallelujah”-level heights, but Patti Smith, Antony Hegarty, Chris Whitley, and Kirsty MacColl (with Evan Dando) are among the artists who’ve given the tune, taken from Lou Reed’s 1972 album, Transformer, a turn. My favorite take is one some purists seem to enjoy poking fun at (especially in stories covering the aborted Boyle performance), a version Duran Duran recorded for their 1995 all-covers effort, Thank You.

I’ve still got the “Perfect Day” promo CD in my collection, and the jewel case is stickered with this glowing endorsement from no less than Lou Reed himself: “I gave it one listen and realized that this was the best cover version ever completed of one of my songs.” (Take that, holier-than-Lou music critics.) Duran Duran’s “Perfect Day,” which features vocal punctuation from longtime associate Tessa Niles, is a wonderfully woozy perfect haze.

The recording also marked the brief return of former drummer Roger Taylor, who had retired from the band in 1986. He also played on the Thank You cover of Elvis Costello’s “Watching The Detectives” as well as an unreleased version of T. Rex’s “Jeepster.” Roger further surprised fanatic Durranies by participating in the “Perfect Day” music video shoot (Red room, red room!):

Returning to the SuBo situation, Reed’s reported lack of fandom isn’t the reason he rained on her “Perfect Day,” his reps say. According to Access Hollywood, the song simply wasn’t cleared in time for American broadcast. In fact, Boyle has actually already recorded “Perfect Day” for her sophomore album, The Gift, due in November, so some hurdles related to rights had been previously OK’d.

If all this has talk has left you mildly curious about what Boyle’s take sounds like, hear here. But proceed with caution: There’s a children’s choir involved.

As for Roger Taylor, he’s been back behind the kit for Duran Duran since 2001. The band’s eagerly anticipated 13th album, recorded with producer Mark Ronson and possibly titled King Of Nowhere, looks like it’ll be out in early 2011.

Purchase Duran Duran – “Perfect Day” via iTunes, Amazon MP3.